Your League of Legends match has just ended. Your GG’s have been said, and you quickly glance through the post-game stats before closing out of the game. Suddenly, you notice a little pop-up at the top of your screen informing you that you have received some honor – and you felt awesome. Or at least that’s how you used to feel, when honor was still a popular commodity. With honor giving on the down slide, Riot recently announced a few changes that they hope will see a resurgence in the power of honor.
Without giving out too many specifics, and you can understand why when you think of how quick this community can be to exploit any kind of achievements, Riot announced that they were making it easier for players to pick up the Great Leader and Great Teammate badges. On the flip side, they have made it more difficult to pick up the Honorable Opponent badge. The logic behind this was that around 16% of players have picked up the Honorable Opponent badge, but only 1% hold the other two.
Riot believes that there is a benefit to having more badge carrying Great Teammates (GT) and Leaders (GL) on the Fields of Valor. The stats that they produced suggest that if you are playing with a GL or GT there is a 70-80% chance that you will have a positive game experience. I would be somewhat skeptical of this stat, but two things convinced me it just might be true. Firstly, all of the folks I have played with that have been GL’s or GT’s have been genuinely amazing people. Some have been ridiculously friendly, while others have done a great job keeping the team focused despite any set backs. Throw in the second reason, the fact that these people are very very rare (1%), and I firmly believe that they do make a difference.
If GL’s and GT’s are such a positive force, will increasing their numbers actually improve the game experience? To me, this looks like a question of how GL’s and GT’s make the game better. Riot Lyte, Riot’s head of social systems, broke this question down into two possible explanations for me (via twitter). On the one hand, it might be that GL’s and GT’s are the kinds of players who are great at holding teams together and keeping everyone happy. On the other hand, just seeing a GL or GT in the game might encourage people to communicate positively and treat each other better. As Lyte himself states, “These are difficult to prove!”
I believe that Riot is, at least somewhat, banking on the latter explanation, that people behave better around GL’s and GT’s. By putting more of them out there, Riot hopes that the overall game experience will improve and people will again give out honor if they believe it will actually result in badges being given out. Making it easier to become a GL or GT, then, becomes a perfect first step.
Personally, I am somewhat worried that it might have the opposite effect on our game experience. I believe that it is the GL’s and GT’s themselves that make the difference. I have seen players misbehave in front of Riot employees, and I am not convinced that the presence of a badge alone makes everyone nicer. What I do know is that the 1% of people who are currently GL’s and GT’s are the kinds of people capable of making the game better.
But what if that number increases to 10 or 15% ? I have definitely played with Honorable Opponents who have been less than honorable, and when I see one in my game I do not immediately give him the same respect and support I do a GL or GT. This could have a negative effect on the integrity of those badges if people stop respecting them as much and come to view them as they do Honorable Opponents – not always honorable.
I want honor to continue to play a big role in this game. I like the concept, I like being given it, I like the badges and I liked the fact that it identifies those players who are likely to improve my gaming experience. I hope that Riot balances the awarding of the badges so that the crop of new GL’s and GT’s are just as amazing as the first bunch, and those badges don’t become as cheap and meaningless as Honorable Opponents can be.
Oh, and I hope the changes actually put the honor back into Honorable Opponents. If this move plays out as Riot hopes, all of the badges will be that much more meaningful. I just hope they don’t go crazy and make us all GL’s and GT’s in the hopes that this will make the game better. Either way, increasing the number of GL’s and GT’s should allow Riot to see if it’s the people or the badges that make games better.
So if you gain a GL or GT badge I hope you try, at least a little bit, to be worthy of the title. Hopefully this won’t be too much of a stretch for you! If you lose your Honorable Opponent title, Riot has suggested that it shouldn’t be too hard to get it back. If you just keep on being a positive force, you should be honorable again in no time. I will be very interested to see the results of this change. Even if they are negative, I do have to give Lyte and his team a tonne of credit for sticking with the honor system and for trying their best to make sure we have a positive game experience.